Do you have any key points of advice you'd give someone looking to start a business and develop a brand based on your experience?


Based on my experience, the act of “developing a brand” was secondary to just trying to live and operate in ways that fully express who I am. I certainly haven’t spent lots of time thinking about or plotting “The Baratunde Brand,” at least not in that kind of formal way. Maybe I just don’t like the term “brand” especially when applied to human beings.

As I’ve grown, I have given thought to my own values and how I live them (or don’t). And I’ve especially thought about what sorts of projects and work to accept or not based on how it aligns with those values, what I might learn from the experience, and what sort of value (aka money!) is available, if any. What I say no to has become as important as what I say yes to.

So I think there’s a balance to be struck. Too much concern for one’s brand can paralyze you with concern for how things might appear to others. But total lack of criteria or discretion leave you open to living and operating without meaning. Both extremes are undesirable in my view. 

The process of developing my own "brand," however, was a result of experimentation and testing of boundaries. 

Some of that experimentation happened naturally. Other parts were more intentional and guided. In the past few years, I've worked professionally with two women who really have helped me determine and articulate my vision and values. One is Priya Parker who runs Thrive Labs. The other is Julia Lynton-Boelte, who has been my chief of staff for some time and, more recently, has been my life coach. The act of knowing one's purpose and designing a life that fulfills it can often benefit from some outside support. So consider that.

Last, watch Key & Peele. It will just make your life happier.